Sunday, March 22, 2015

Aunt Izy's Cellphone

My Aunt Izy is 90 years old.  She's well past the ability or desire to have anything to do with technology.  In recent years she has bought two for her living room and one for her bedroom.  Both times she asked if we could come over and set them up.  If she could have just plugged them into the wall she would have been all set.  But connecting them to the cable box and figuring out the remote controls was beyond her comprehension.

So you can just imagine how surprised I was when she called and asked if I could come over and help her with her cell phone.  

Whoa! What???   Her cellphone????

It turns out that, 7 years ago, she bought a Jitterbug phone to keep in her car just in case of emergencies.

Yes, she still drives her own car.  Granted, she drives it about half a mile to the grocery store and sometimes 3 miles up the road to Walmart.  But she does still occasionally drive it to the next town over for a doctor's appointment, so I was actually glad to hear that she had the phone.

For some reason, she started thinking about it and realized she didn't really know how to make a call on it.  So she tried to make a call and it didn't work.  In fact, she somehow managed to make a collect call to the friend she was trying to call.

So I came over on a Saturday afternoon and checked out the phone.  When I dialed a number it said, "Thank you for calling Verizon Wireless.  We will connect you to an operator who will complete your call with a credit card."  I wasn't very happy to hear that!  Although I was pretty happy that Aunt Izy had the presence of mind NOT to put in her credit card number.

I sat beside Auntie on the couch and called the "customer service" number.   After going through 20 minutes of diagnostics, the young lady told me that the phone my Aunt has is "no longer being supported by the company."   In other words, it was obsolete!

When I asked her how long the phone had been unusable, she couldn't say because my Aunt had NO call history.  She had never made a call on that phone.  So I said, "Okay, send her a phone that works."  The "customer service" representative said she could send her a new phone.........for $79!!

I said they should send her a phone for free.  "Oh no"  they said,  "that phone is no longer under warranty."  
"You don't understand", I replied.  "YOU are the ones who changed the contract.  SHE did nothing.  She didn't break it, or drop it, or lose it. You need to send her a new phone."

While the young lady was checking with her supervisor, Auntie was getting quite agitated listening to all this discussion and told me to cancel her account.

When the girl came back with an offer from her supervisor to give us a $20 discount, I told her to cancel the account.  She just said, "okay" and did just that.

On Monday morning, away from Aunt Izy's ears, I called Jitterbug back, asked for a supervisor, and blasted him.  He agreed to send her a new phone for free.  Especially after I discussed with him the possibility of me taking steps to get back the $12.66 per month she'd been paying them for the last 7 years!!......since, you know, they couldn't tell me when the phone stopped working.  He said her account would be re-activated at the same rate.

I let Auntie know a new phone was on the way.  (During that same call she said her TV was "doing something funny" and she tried to fix it and now it doesn't work at all.  We went over and turned back on her cable box.)

On Tuesday, I went over to set up the new phone.  It's supposed to be so easy! Of course, I followed the steps and it wouldn't work.  I had to call "customer service" again. This time, they gave me a hard time because I was not listed on my Aunt's account as someone who could discuss her business.  After putting my aunt on the phone (where she spent the next 10 minutes explaining what was happening with her phone - serves them right!) they allowed me to talk to them.  Interesting that the two previous times I called, they allowed me to cancel her account AND reactivate it without her permission.

 Turns out Idiot Supervisor Boy hadn't reactivated her account.  And besides that, it didn't say it in the manual that you had to charge the phone before activating it.   So I told Auntie we'd set the phone up to charge, and I'd be back the next night to help her activate it.

Back over there the next night and of course the activation process won't work again!!  I had to call "customer service" AGAIN, where they AGAIN gave me a hard time about calling on my Aunt's account.   Turns out Idiot Customer Service Girl didn't make a note of the fact that I was supposed to be able to discuss her account.  Finally, after 45 minutes, we got the phone activated.

I'm really quite disgusted that Jitterbug, who advertises themselves as a company that makes easy-to-use phones for the elderly, would have such horrible customer service and phones that are so difficult to activate.  I looked into another company, but that would have involved buying a new phone, and Aunt Izy is just stubborn enough that she wouldn't be willing to do that.

The other company rep I talked to did tell me, however, that they had a "test" number that customers could call as often as they wished to make sure the line was working.  When I talked to Idiot Supervisor Boy, he said, "oh yes, we have that too."    I suggested that in the future, they should let people know that so that, if they have a customer like my Aunt who rarely uses her phone, it won't go obsolete without her knowing!!!

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